Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, police and customs officials have powers to seize cash over £1,000 if they suspect it may be obtained as a result of unlawful conduct, or intended to be used for unlawful conduct. These are very wide powers and are often used when suspects are arrested with large amounts of cash on them.
The authorities also have the power to apply to the Court for seized cash to be forfeited and it is quite routine for authorities to seek forfeiture of cash they have seized in this way, sometimes on very short notice.
Importantly, these forfeiture proceedings are civil in nature, which means that the test applied by the court when considering the matter is to the civil standard - “more likely than not” - instead of the criminal standard – “so that the court is sure”. What this means to anyone facing forfeiture is that even if criminal proceedings are not instituted against the person from whom the cash was seized, or proceedings are discontinued, or even if the person found not guilty of any offence at trial, the cash seized may still be forfeited if the Court believes that it is more likely than not that the cash was obtained as a result of unlawful conduct or to be used for such a purpose.
For this reason, forfeiture proceedings are often brought even before any criminal case has finished, or even begun.
Specialist legal advice and a robust response at an early stage is therefore vital, to protect your position - and your money.
Bullivant Law can help you in this very complex area, and in some cases, Legal Aid may be available if you meet certain eligibility criteria.
Please contact us for an initial free half hour , no obligation consultation if you are the subject of a Cash Seizure and need further advice. You can contact us on 0207 332 8250 or email@example.com and ask to speak to a Lawyer.